Pope will never give up hope for peace, says papal envoy back from Ukraine

Pope Francis and Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, left, pray before the pope spent three hours speaking with and answering questions from bishops during the spring assembly of the Italian bishops' conference at the Vatican May 22, 2023. The pope has asked Cardinal Zuppi, president of the bishops' conference, to lead a peace mission for Ukraine. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

[Vatican City – CNS] – When it comes to peace in Ukraine, Pope Francis is not giving up hope, said Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, the papal envoy recently returned from the war-torn nation.

The pope is always asking everyone “to devote ourselves to peace. This is important because it involves all of us to never accept violence and war,” he said June 7 on the sidelines of a book presentation in Rome, according to Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference.

“Pope Francis does not give up,” he said. His determination is so strong “that he wanted this mission precisely because he wants to seek out everything that might further the path of peace.”

The pope chose Cardinal Zuppi of Bologna, president of the Italian bishops’ conference, to lead an initiative for peace in Ukraine.

The cardinal was in Ukraine June 5-6 visiting Kyiv and the suburb of Bucha, where hundreds of civilians were found killed — some bound and shot execution style — after it was freed from Russian occupation.

The cardinal also met with Ukrainian officials including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who said on his Telegram channel June 6 that he and the cardinal “discussed the situation in Ukraine and humanitarian cooperation in the framework of the Ukrainian Peace Formula.”

“Only united efforts, diplomatic isolation and pressure on Russia can influence the aggressor and bring a just peace to the Ukrainian land,” the president wrote.

While he invited other states to find paths toward peace, “since the war is on our territory, the algorithm for achieving peace can be Ukrainian only,” said Zelenskyy.

Cardinal Zuppi said the purpose of his mission was not “mediation,” but to show the interest and closeness of the pope and to listen “so that the conflict might find pathways to peace.”

He said that because of the pope’s hospitalization and surgery June 7, he had not been able to meet with the pope yet to provide details about his two-day mission and to discuss next steps. The cardinal did meet with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, June 7, according to Avvenire.

Pope Francis “eagerly awaits what comes out of these meetings in order to try every way possible to support the path of just peace and alleviate so much human suffering,” Cardinal Zuppi said.

Before meeting with Cardinal Zuppi June 7, Cardinal Parolin told reporters during an event in Rome that the peace mission to Ukraine was “an additional contribution that the Holy See can make toward peace. Just talking to each other and seeing somewhat different positions can be useful.”

He said he did not know what developments were in store, but “the pope’s idea was that the mission be carried out in the two capitals,” meaning Kyiv and Moscow, and that goal “should remain open.”



© OSV News / Our Sunday Visitor, Inc. 2023 – from CNS Vatican bureau, used with permission